Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings went to bat for Jason Kilar and HBO Max Thursday night, imploring Nielsen to start including the Netflix rival in its data on the major SVOD services.
“Wild that most TV time in USA is still legacy linear. Stream team needs to up its game. @jasonkilar we need you on the board too,” Hastings tweeted, following Nielsen’s publication of a new monthly infographic titled “The Gauge,” which quantifies what mechanisms U.S. consumers are using to watch video. HBO Max was not included on that pie chart.
HBO Max has also been excluded from Nielsen’s weekly audience ratings of the top shows on the major U.S. subscription video platforms. As reported each week by Next TV, these rankings only include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus. (Although WarnerMedia CEO Kilar successfully lobbied Nielsen in January for a one-time exception to include HBO Max after Wonder Woman 1984 premiered to boffo streaming numbers.)
With Nielsen’s new “Gauge” showing that most of the audience is still consuming via linear means, Kilar responded with his own tweet Thursday evening:
“.@WarnerMedia is already on the board strongly in that largest green pie piece Reed (TNT, TBS, CNN, HBO, CN…). Proud to serve customers in whatever way they choose Fun to also be the crazy fast(est) growing upstart in @hbomax (2 Qs straight of 2.5M+ US sub adds).”
So is Nielsen going to capitulate to Hastings and start including HBO Max in its SVOD data? Next TV’s inquiries to Nielsen weren’t immediately responded to.
And notably, Hastings was indeed asking Nielsen for ratings inclusion, not for a boardroom seat for Kilar, as Variety first errantly reported.
Nielsen’s hesitancy to invite HBO Max to the party probably boils down to scale. With 74.38 million subscribers in the U.S., Netflix absolutely dominates Nielsen’s weekly rankings to the top overall SVOD programs, as well as drilled down metrics on original series, acquired series and movies.
Parent company AT&T reported in April that HBO had reached 44.2 million U.S. subscribers in the first quarter, but it’s unclear as to how many of them have adopted the IP-based HBO Max service. That number was well under 20 million at last report, although it could have surpassed that threshold by now.
Hastings responded to his own tweet Thursday suggesting HBO Max would account for more than 1% of the total TV audience.
Certainly, down the road, as AT&T gets ready to spin off WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery Inc., HBO Max’s scale could dramatically increase.
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